It is extremely difficult to keep scholars on a predetermined, straight, and narrow path. Academic life not only has an inner compulsion of its own, but scholars, like goats, tend to wander afield, and as they move from one object to another with somewhat indiscriminate though scientific curiosity, they are led further and further away from their original path. Originally the School of Oriental and African Studies was established strictly to be useful; its purpose as set forth in its 1916 Charter was to ‘give instruction in the Languages of Eastern and African Peoples, Ancient and Modern, and in the Literature, History, Religion, and Customs of those peoples, especially with a view to the needs of persons about to proceed to the East or to Africa for the pursuit of study and research, commerce or a profession …’.